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ONC Releases Final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan

September 22, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released its final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan with a focus on improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities, rather than the adoption of IT systems.

The plan, spanning from 2015-2020, identifies the federal government's health IT priorities. While this plan focuses on federal strategies, achieving this plan's vision requires collaboration from private stakeholders and state, territorial, local, and tribal governments. Efforts across the ecosystem—by individuals, families, caregivers, healthcare entities and providers, public health entities, payers, technology developers, community-based nonprofit organizations, home-based supports, and academic institutions—are also essential, according to the plan’s executive summary.

Government action will be the main driver for certain strategies, and for others, federal action will either supplement existing stakeholder work or encourage additional activities to begin. The vision and goals articulated in this plan are not exclusive to the federal government; their attainment will require collaborative engagement and commitment. The plan seeks to illuminate issues where federal action will have less reach, and where state, territorial, regional, private, and individual actions will be more impactful, according to the summary.

While ONC’s previous federal health IT plan focused on EHR adoption, this plan goes beyond that, with the aim to expedite high-quality, accurate, secure, and relevant electronic health information for stakeholders across the nation. The plan is designed so individuals can manage their health, providers can deliver high-quality care to their patients, public health entities and long-term services and supports can improve community health, and scientists and innovators can advance cutting-edge research and solutions. Within each of those goals are objectives and strategies to achieve them.

ONC released a draft plan in December 2014 for public comment and received feedback from more than 400 individuals and organizations, including their suggestions about how best to achieve the seamless flow of health information. The Health IT Policy Committee gave ONC recommendations, and the nearly two dozen listening sessions with stakeholders last year let us know what matters most to people managing and utilizing information and technology, according to an ONC blog post on the plan, led by Karen DeSalvo, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT.

“The final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan reflects commenters’ recommendations that federal efforts, including government programs and policies, assist stakeholders as they use electronic information to improve health and support innovations that make health, care delivery, and research more effective. The plan is a broad document that condenses the detailed work and strategic direction of many federal initiatives and plans. Its strategies and objectives support the use of health IT to accomplish these ongoing initiatives, such as precision medicine and delivery system reform,” the blog post reads.

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